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Hipster PoliceHipster Police

Hipster Police

This is my first article for The Guardian Comment is Free section.  I’ve added my own pic here…

It’s a response to Matt Hancock’s recent maiden speech about UK arts and culture in which he said, “The hipster is a capitalist.”

I’d love your feedback…


0 thoughts on “Hipsters and artists are the gentrifying foot soldiers of capitalism

  1. This is a comment I posted on Guardian. It’s meant constructively. I reserve the right to change my mind if your response is persuasive 🙂
    The writer gleefully brands “people want to earn a reasonable living, independently, by “crafting” and “creating” as capitalists. Well, yes, so what?
    It seems a dismal and snarky fight to pick, when there a bigger and more strategic battles for a socialist to fight. Capitalism has more than a few shades of grey. To critique those who are “ethical, sustainable and highly mobile” in the 21st century for being pro-business is a weak analysis with divisive consequences.
    Above all, I want to ask: what is a hipster? I’m still not sure. The author doesn’t offer much definition beyond bikes, beards and craft beers. My feeling is that hipster is a by-word for an ever-changing definition of what the word’s user wants to condescendingly designate as trendy.
    Is he conflating the ‘new-artisan’ movement, of which I’m no fanboy, with the global advertising, PR and high-end art creative industries? They are different. The latter puts the shine on industry and has a lot more to answer for.
    Gentrification is of course a big concern but it’s first and foremost about housing policy, which this superficial and confused article doesn’t recognise. The economics of home ownership and the rental market are the drivers of rapid social and aesthetic changes to an area. It is the effect of a deregulated market. Artists are not the “state’s neoliberal troops”, because artist’s don’t take orders from government.
    And why the loose-ended references to imperialism and colonialism? They need unpacking before they are anything more than leftie polemic buzzwords

    • Stephen Pritchard says:

      Thanks for your comment Lucas.
      Firstly, the article was commissioned by The Guardian as a provocative piece that responded to Matt Hancock’s speech and his "The hipster is an artist" quote. I had tweeted about this beforehand. The piece was limited to 800 words. I tried to approach the article ironically; tried to point out the ludicrous nature of Hancock’s comments and how they are part of a bigger plan to instrumentalise artists, which, to pick up one of your later points, is increasingly what happens in the art world. Artists ARE being used for all sorts of economic gain. They/ we are exploited. I’m an artist too. I even take orders from the state, sometimes.
      Of course there are bigger battles for socialists. I’m a strong socialist – a Corbyn supporter that wants him to go further than is (publicly at least) able to declare. Nonetheless, I saw this piece as a chance to antagonise and publicise the insidious instrumentalism of The Creative Industries and the problems of artists and hipsters becoming embroiled in neoliberal economic strategies that are way beyond the control of any of us. It is Hancock who is trying to appropriate artists and hipsters and many others into a state-led mass-creativity-as-economic-regen-me-gen game that exploits and controls.
      Gentrification is, of course, driven by housing policy AND, even more by global corporate investors and investment banks. It leads to social cleansing and displacement of many people and communities who are much more vulnerable than artists and hipsters. I care about the effects for those at the bottom of this terribly divisive housing market. I loath the denigration, sale and demolition of social housing and the people and communities who so desperately rely upon them.
      Who are hipsters? Who are artists? God knows and, for me, its not particularly important. Their style is undoubtedly based upon nineteenth century colonial pioneers. This is not chance. This is part of the ironic nature of the fashion and lifestyle industries, which Hancock also lumps in with artists, etc.
      Finally, I agree that imperialism and colonialism need to be clearly defined as they have elsewhere. It was beyond the scope of this article.
      Perhaps you might like to take a look at my other blog articles or recent papers which are on my academia page here
      I would love to hear your response and thanks again for taking the time to comment so thoughtfully.

  2. I thought it was a great article. Someone mentioned paying £4.90 for privilege of drinking out of a jam-jar. I think that’s spot on. There is a marked looseness of economics with customers and propietors in this milieu. As someone who encounters a lot of hipsterism because of my political leanings, age and profession, but who – nevertheless- lives in the real world, my own impression is that hipsters and their derivatives have displaced ‘normal’ everyday people on the social ladder. The ‘right to earn a living’ doing what you love is no longer available to people who used to go to university achieve just that. Now that can’t be done without a leg-up from mumsie or a good word from daddy’s mate (I’ve seen this in action). What trustafarians don’t realise is that those of us who don’t have these advantages have to find ‘something’ to do to earn enough to survive, and that this trumps whatever dreams (and qualifications) we might have had from and through uni. The problem for these ordinary folk seeking to better their lot via uni is exacerbated by the dads of trustafarians favouring each-others kids for jobs at the hi-end firms they run, so that only genius’s from the lower levels of society need apply…and even if you are a genius…you wont be treated like one.

  3. ´´ Above all, I want to ask: what is a hipster? I’m still not sure. The author doesn’t offer much definition beyond bikes, beards and craft beers. My feeling is that hipster is a by-word for an ever-changing definition of what the word’s user wants to condescendingly designate as trendy. ´´
    how can one not know what a hipster is. there is nothing ever-changing ( sorry, but they are not that creative ), and when you see one, you know what you are dealing with.

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